OTHERS

`DRAFT Can Kashappanavar continue in Cabinet?

BANGALORE, MAY 20. The continuance of the Minister for Small- Scale Industries, Mr. S. R. Kashappanavar, in the Government has become untenable after the Maharashtra police booked a case against him for forcibly opening the gates of the Auj-Shirnal Barrage across the Bheema river in the Solapur District of that State on Tuesday last.

It is for the first time the State Government has been facing such an embarrassment. The minister is guilty of taking the law into his hands - that too in a neighbouring State. There were suppressed cases of misbehaviour by a few ministers while on visits to Delhi or other States. One or two of such cases had been spoken of in the days of Devaraj Urs's chief ministership. No doubt, the cases of resignation of two ministers of those days who are no more, R. D. Kittur and Devendrappa Ghalappa, were on a different plane. But there were no cases of police of other States booking cases against Karnataka ministers.

In fact, ministers from the State had always stood out in the company of those from other States with their knowledge, better command of language and public conduct. Some years ago, a Union Minister had raised eyebrows at a press conference held here by treating the then Chairman of the National Textile Corporation with disdain in front of everyone.

Overaction

In the instant case, Mr. Kashappanavar is seen as having overacted to safeguard the interests of the people of a part of Bijapur District. The acute shortage of water in some villages in Bijapur District and the non-release of water into the Bheema river by Maharashtra Government has become a source of constant friction between the two States. Maharashtra has been releasing water into the Bheema from the Koyna Dam or the Auj-Shirnal Barrage after repeated requests from the Karnataka Government.

Observers note that the minister erred by intervening in an issue which should have been handled by the Irrigation Department or the Revenue officials.

Karnataka had not taken kindly to ministers from Andhra Pradesh visiting the Alamatti Dam with officials and presspersons at the height of the dispute over its height and the installation of crest gates.

The Mandrup police in Solapur District have named Mr. Kashappanavar as the first accused and charged him with provoking a mob to forcibly remove the gates of the barrage and throwing some of them into the water. Cases have been filed against him under five sections of the IPC and two under the Maharashtra Irrigation Act.

Surprise induction

Surprise had been expressed when Mr. Kashappanavar was inducted into the ministry and that too into the Cabinet. The factors that led to his appointment were that he had been elected to the Assembly for the third successive term from the Hungund constituency in Bijapur District and that the Chief Minister had few choices when it came to selection of ministers from among the Lingayat caste. Mr. Kashappanavar is, however, known to be an astute politician despite his homespun looks.

Last year, there were demands for his removal from the Government for his alleged anti-party activity in the election of the President of the Bagalkot Zilla Panchayat. He and the Minister for Urban Development, Mr. B. B. Chimmankatti, had clashed openly and the Congress lost the chairmanship.

Parochialism

Observers note that the problem with some of the ministers is that they concern themselves more with their constituencies and districts than with the State. It is also revealed in their tour programmes. Even some of the senior ministers are more concerned over nursing their fiefdoms. The system of appointing district in-charge ministers has helped such parochialism.

The only minister to be dropped from the Government so far is the former minister, Mr. T. John, for his thoughtless utterance describing the January 26 Gujarat earthquake as divine wrath for the attacks on Christians in that State.